If Danny Briere is emotional about the possibility of playing his last home game in a Flyers uniform on Thursday night, he isn’t showing it.
Because of his high cap hit _ $6.5 million per year _ the Flyers’ 35-year-old forward is expected to be bought out or traded after the season. If that happens, that would make Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders his finale at the Wells Fargo Center as a member of the Flyers.
“I’m not thinking about that….Things change fast in the hockey world,” the always-classy Briere said after Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. “For me, it’s just another game. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. I can’t start thinking about all those rumors. It’s just like at the trade deadline. If you start getting into that trap, it gets you off your game.”
Briere, who has missed 14 games this year because of a fractured wrist and a concussion, has been slowed by injuries the last two seasons. He is goal-less in his last 19 games.
In six seasons with the Flyers, Briere has scored 123 goals, including 31 in his first year with the team after being signed as a free agent on July 1, 2007. He scored a career-high 34 goals in 2010-11.
Briere, generously listed at 5-10, 179 pounds, is best known for his playoff domination. He helped lead the Flyers to an improbable journey to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, finishing the playoffs with an NHL-best 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 23 games.
It was the most playoff points ever scored by a Flyer, breaking the mark set by Brian Propp (28 points) in 1987. Brere also led all scorers in the Finals with 12 points _ one shy of the record established by some guy named Wayne Gretzky, who did it for Edmonton in 1988.
“Everybody knows I want to stay here,” said Briere, who has two years left on his contract, “but it’s a business and I also understand that part.”
Briere has been one of the Flyers’ best leaders _ on and off the ice. The last three years, he has taken two of the team’s players under his wing. Claude Giroux lived with him and his children at his Haddonfield home for one year. Sean Couturier has lived with Briere for the last two years.
“It’s been fun for me, too. It goes both ways,” Briere, who is divorced, said about sharing his home with teammates. “My own kids love it, so it’s been a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Bryz on Mason. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said if he and Steve Mason are on the team next season, the Flyers will be better off for it.
“He’s a young, great goalie,” Bryzgalov said. “He’s got big potential in front of him.”
If he and Mason battle for the job next season, does Bryzgalov think it can bring out the best in both goalies?
“It’s great for the team when you have two good goalies,” he said. “During this season, I didn’t have much opportunity for rest during a long stretch and was kind of exhausted, and when you have the luxury of having a second goalie who can play great, too, it’s wonderful for the team.
“Healthy competition is always good.”
The Flyers could use a buyout on Bryzgalov, but may wait another year before making that decision _ unless a player comes available in a trade and they need to get rid of the goalie’s annual cap hit ($5.67 million).
When asked if he wanted to return to the Flyers next season, Bryzgalov playfully deflected question by commenting on a reporter’s "good blouse."
When asked again, he said, “of course” he wants to return.
(more to come)